On Saturday, March 4th, 2017, The Alliance for Quality Education asked me to say a few words on behalf of educators across the state. Here is the video version of what I said. I forgot a few things, so here’s the text version of said speech. Thanks.
We are gathered here today to march for one of the most democratic experiments in the world: a public education and why it matters right now. As a teacher in New York City public schools, I’m used to defending our schools, our parents, and our kids: our kids who text their parents to make sure ICE didn’t issue a raid at their places of employ, our kids who have too many conversations about law enforcement in and out of school, our kids who are over tested and then called special when they don’t meet preordained standards, and our kids who are being told that all of this is normal. We cannot normalize these times, and that’s why we’re here today.
The current president of the United States, Donald Trump, says that public schools are a monopoly worth breaking up, and that our schools are part of the American carnage. Even though he never attended a public school in his life, and dodged public service with capitalist enthusiasm, he still blames us for the government’s failure to fully fund schools . Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos never went to public school either, but she says our teachers are in receivership, as if schools haven’t survived through the will and work of educators, parents, and students and not waiting for your favorite superhero. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who openly supports the pro-privatization rallies funded indirectly by donations from Ms. DeVos herself, this Andrew Cuomo believes children should be lucky enough to win a lottery for a well-funded school.
They believe in a market that doesn’t believe in us. The free market will not set us free. The free market can never be free if all of us aren’t.
We must resist the urge to agree. We march today because, regardless of where your children attend school, they must get equity in their educational opportunities. We must prioritize love, compassion, and resistance against forces that would do our students harm across race, gender, class, religious, and disability lines. We want great educational experiences for all children from the furthest tip of Long Island to the outskirts of Buffalo and everywhere in between, and it starts right here. We have to start now, and it starts with creating a safety net by which our most vulnerable can learn when we know lotteries will fail them. Not just a public education, but a truly democratic education.
We must not waste time. I’m a teacher. I’m ready to educate the kids and school these privateers.